These magnificent beings grace the British coast regularly in the spring and summer months where they come to feed while the water is more temperate, though they are generally circumglobal. They are the second largest known fish at 6 – 9 metres (30 ft), dwarfed only by the Whale Shark, which can sometimes be up to 14 metres (46 ft) long. Larger fish have yet to be discovered, but, given that we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about what lurks in the ocean, it could be out there!
The Shark Trust has designed a code of conduct for the general public to use so that they can approach the Basking Sharks in their natural habitat without upsetting or disturbing them. You can find their code of conduct here along with information on how to spot them and somewhere to submit your photos for identification on their website here. There is even a blog to follow if you wish to keep up with the sightings!
1. The Lizard
Basking sharks follow their food, and plankton booms are often visible offshore here.
2. Land’s End
Also a good place to spot seabirds and lizards, so even if you don’t see a basking shark, you’re sure to see something interesting!
3. Gwennap Head (near St Levan)
The last two years have reported regular visits from Basking sharks, usually in groups of two or three.
4. St Ives
Basking Sharks (and seals) have even been seen breaching here.
Not exactly a hotspot in itself, but Penzance is home to Marine Discovery, who regularly run wildlife watching boattrips (Jet RIB) for the eager naturalist.
Image credit: Linda Pitkin, Charles Hood, Eleanor Stone.
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